Will there be a minister at the Francofolies in La Rochelle?

Will there be a minister at the Francofolies in La Rochelle?
Will there be a minister at the Francofolies in La Rochelle?

In shirt sleeves or summer suits, politicians often “dropped in at the Francos”. Sometimes even to talk about songs. But the legislative elections came to shake up this anniversary edition.

Will Rachida Dati, still Minister of Culture, come and visit the song festival?

Will Rachida Dati, still Minister of Culture, come and visit the song festival? Photo Xose Bouzas/Hans Lucas

By Léa Bucci

Published on July 10, 2024 at 10:00 a.m.

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«UThe Minister of Culture travels to the Aix-en-Provence Festival for classical music, to the Avignon Festival for theatre, and to La Rochelle for French song,” explains Didier Varrod, director of music at Radio France, who has been involved in the Francofolies de La Rochelle since their beginnings in 1985. From Jack Lang to Rima Abdul Malak, the tenants of the rue de Valois have all gone there − rarely to make announcements. More often to smile.

The prefecture of Charente-Maritime has its charms during the festival: the atmosphere is relaxed, the wine is served chilled, and the oysters are enjoyed in the “magnificent setting” of the seaside praised by everyone. It is also an opportunity to meet some important music bosses and to display a relaxed image: Ségolène Royal (PS), as regional president or minister, and Jean-Pierre Raffarin (LR), former senator of Vienne, fan of Johnny Hallyday, have fought over the territory there on several occasions… In 2022, Olivier Véran, outgoing Minister of Health (Renaissance), managed to end a lively discussion with a passer-by with a smile shortly after the Covid crisis. In 2016, madness, Alain Juppé attended without a tie! And if the city has been the stronghold of the Socialist Party’s summer university since 1993, the festival itself welcomes politicians from all sides.

Rachida Dati was obviously expected this year, like her predecessors at Culture. The day after the legislative elections, the minister’s agenda is completely unclear, the organizers interviewed say they do not know who will come to this anniversary edition − the Francofolies are in fact celebrating their 40th edition. The event, assures Pierre Pauly, its programmer, is intended to be “totally apolitical.”

Certainly, the candidates for the 2015 regional election rushed there, at the invitation of the director of the event, Gérard Pont. Certainly again, the former President of the Republic François Hollande, in 2019, or the former Prime Minister Édouard Philippe, in 2022, were invited: “but only to talk about music”, insists Émilie Yakich, co-director, as part of the format “I have a singing memory”. Amusing conversations, sometimes erudite, about the songs that have marked their lives. François Ruffin, re-elected deputy of the Somme under the NFP label, was supposed to take part in the game this year − the surprise election campaign that has just ended forced him to cancel his participation. Unless he finally comes to celebrate the victory of his New Popular Front?

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